How do we create a city for children?

How do we create a city for children?

That’s the question international experts on youth and public space are discussing during the three days of the international “Child in the City” conference.

“ ‘If you come to a city and see many children, it's a sure sign of city quality’ (Jan Gehl). More than 20 % of the population in Brussels is under 18. It is therefore crucial that we never stop to reflect on the best ways for our children to grow up and evolve and that the city responds to their needs. Offering our Brussels children and youth a safe, resilient, fun, peaceful city where education also plays an important role is a core objective of my policy and city vision. By investing in our children and youth, we ensure our region’s future and the well-being of future generations. ​ Hosting Child in the City in Brussels, at the heart of Europe, will be a great opportunity to exchange views and learn more about this urban challenge. ​ It will also provide an opportunity to continue our work to make Brussels even more child-friendly. ​ Because I am convinced that a city for children is a city for people." said Pascal Smet, State Secretary for Urbanism in the Brussels government and responsible for Youth in the Flemish Community Commission.

Brussels is the youngest region in our country. Creating a city for children is therefore one of the major challenges for Brussels policy makers. How do we organise our city for children? How do we involve young people in policy-making? How do we reduce the gap between generations? How do we support young Brusselers in poverty? And how do we stimulate our children’s creativity? These are some of the questions policy-makers have to answer today. That is why State Secretary Pascal Smet is organising the international conference “Child in the City” together with Minister-President Rudi Vervoort, Minister Elke Van den Brandt and Minister Sven Gatz. They will do this together with the Child in the City Foundation. Child experts and urban planners will address the above questions from 20 to 22 November this year.

As city of the future, the Brussels-Capital Region welcomes the “Child in the City” world conference for its 11th edition. Child in the City is an independent foundation, and its main objective is to strengthen the position of children in cities, promote and protect their rights, connect people around these shared objectives and give a platform for the exchange of research results and good practices directed at the creation of child-friendly cities. “Child in the City” brings together international child and urban planning experts to improve the living conditions of children in the city and to share local and (inter)national best practices.

“Building the Future” will be the conference’s overarching theme. In five specific areas, participants will examine how we can build on the following:

  • Creativity - using urban environments to harness the creativity of young people
  • Intergenerational cohesion - policies that span all the age groups
  • International solidarity - how to improve living conditions for children everywhere
  • Participation and democracy - young people and their contribution to citizenship
  • Young people – friendly urban spaces - making our outdoor spaces truly accessible

The very dynamic and diverse programme will not only include presentations and seminars, but also field visits. Urban planners, academics, social workers, urban designers, architects, policy makers and play workers ​ will share their ideas and experiences during the conference. After all, they are closely involved in how cities shape the future of their young inhabitants.

Anyone active in child and youth education can participate in the conference. You can register until 31 May.

“Investing in children is investing in the future. Children who grow up in a healthy and safe environment are more likely to become healthy and conscious adults. As policy makers, it is our duty to integrate children’s needs into our policies. That is why I am pleased that this conference will be held in Brussels this year. We will have the opportunity to exchange knowledge and good practices with experts and organisations in the field, who can inspire us to develop an even more child-friendly city,” said Minister-President Rudi Vervoort.
“For a young city like Brussels, being able to host this conference is both a privilege and obvious. A city in which children feel well, healthy and happy is a safe, resilient place. This already starts with childcare and continues with strong education in broad schools, accessible leisure activities and help that can be found when needed. ​ Through the entire N network, the VGC strengthens the autonomy and development of children and young people. And we are looking forward to exchange even more ideas thanks to Child in the City,” said VGC college President Elke Van den Brandt
Brussels Minister Sven Gatz, in charge of Education and Schools: “Going all in for innovation in a metropolitan context, ensuring that every child finds its place in this city to fully develop all talents! That is what we aim for, through building comfortable modern school infrastructure, but also through supporting projects like educare, teenage school, broad learning and multilingualism. Our ambition is to strengthen the well-being of children and young people and increase their self-confidence so that they become empowered citizens in this rapidly evolving society.”

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